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Days of Faith.


BIBLE VERSES FOR THOUGHT

I was glad when they said to me, Let us go to the house of the Lord.

Psalm 122: 1, ESV


And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Hebrews 10: 24-25, ESV


Deciphering the statistics that comprise the religious landscape of the United States is complex and yes, perplexing. Americans identify their religious preferences in the following broad numbers---


Christian 70.6%

Jewish 1.9%

Muslim .9%

Other world religions 1.7%

Uncertain .6%

None 22.0%

Aggregate 97.7%


The same statisticians estimate that 54% of Americans attend religious services a few times a year while 45% attend at least monthly. There is a wide discrepancy in the number of people who hold religious views and those who attend religious services. And, these variances may explain the declines in American moral and ethical standards. Attending religious services and celebrating days of faith are avenues of encountering eternal truth. They should be observed regularly.


God's assessment that "it is not good that man should be alone" (see Genesis 2:18) resulted in the creation of man and woman and served as the foundational basis for human relationships. Family was the immediate and first institution. Clans, tribes, and nationalities became the context for expressing our need for others. As faith developed under the chosen nation of Israel, religious expression became one of the group dynamics to influence our world. Faith was not seen as a singular, personal life experience but was instituted in congregations and assemblies. Through history these gatherings long remembered the occasions and events that marked their historical development. The religious groups above acknowledge and celebrate their spiritual milestones---Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and others in the Hebrew tradition; Eid Al-Fitr, Eid Al-Adha, Ramadan, and more primary among the Muslims; Christmas, Easter, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and others among the Christian populations.


That is not to say that personal, individual worship, prayer, devotions, study, service, fellowship, and other religious practices are prohibited. But, the hallmarks of faith, worship, training, what we call discipleship, and other meaningful religious experiences were to be practiced in group settings. Church, synagogue, and mosque were the guardians of their specific histories and traditions.


Holding a Christian worldview my faith is practiced in a congregational setting at least every Sunday, and in private devotions, Bible study, prayer, and Christian service through the week. The special observances of holy communion, and those days of remembrance are essential in grasping God's purpose for my life, the truth of his eternal love, and the plan of redemption that marked me as his. They are always times of personal spiritual reflection and renewed commitment to the values that have guided millions of believers throughout history. Each leaves me marveling at God's amazing grace, the grace that saves and sustains every believer.


In just a few weeks we will remember Christ's entrance into Jerusalem, his passion on the cross, and celebrate his glorious resurrection. Millions around the world will mark these days with reverent worship and great joy. We should observe them as reminders of God's eternal plan, and as a witness to the world around us of his saving grace. That one would give his life for his friends is perhaps the most awesome truth that is refreshed in this season every year.


They are days of faith to grow and deepen us in his care.

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